McClure Middle School, located at the top of Queen Anne hill, was originally built in the 1960s, and like many other schools in the Seattle School District, it is currently on a long wait list for a remodel. In the meantime, however, McClure has a long list of structural demands needed to improve both the conditions for the staff and students, and energy costs incurred by the district, that cannot wait. According to 36th District Rep. and Queen Anne resident Reuven Carlyle, the building is often so cold, many of its 600 students wear their coats from class to class.
This is one of many reasons why last year Carlyle worked to help secure $1 million in state funds for McClure Middle School to undergo energy efficiency upgrades, a pilot project that he says has laid the groundwork for new legislation that, if passed, will fund energy and cost-saving improvements for schools and universities statewide, creating 38,000 jobs in the process.
“The money was a pilot project to show the value proposition of this core idea that has been embraced nationally as a way to create high wage jobs while improving the energy efficiency and reducing utility costs for public agencies like schools nationwide,” Carlyle wrote to us in an email last week.
So far, part of McClure’s $1 million award has been used to fund an energy audit of the building, identifying energy cost-saving improvements that will also be covered under the funding. According to Carlyle, construction has already been approved and is set to begin sometime in late spring or early summer. And although this pilot project is not connected directly to House Bill 2561, which passed through Washington’s House of Representatives just last week, Carlyle says it serves to positively reinforce support for a public policy initiative that has the potential to save money, promote sustainability and benefit communities throughout the state.
“This pilot didn’t create this larger legislation but it showed the idea on the ground in a public school. It played a modest but important role because it showed how a community-based model can work on the ground for real schools,” he wrote. “The value proposition of conducting an audit and then making decisions about how best to improve both the school and reduce costs work together. The model worked and McClure helped to show it.”
Bill 2561 would raise $850 from a state bond and allocate it to clean energy construction projects to improve schools and universities across the state, in so doing, creating 38,000 “well paying jobs,” according to Carlyle. The funds would support energy audits and structural upgrades including the installation of energy efficient windows, weathering, roofing and insulation improvements, and solar energy projects, to name a few–-projects that are “all related to energy efficiency–the most economically efficient way to reduce costs,” Carlyle said.
If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Gregoire, it will be put to voters on the November ballot.
“I’m really proud of the small but important role that the McClure project has played in the larger development of this bold energy efficiency and jobs program. This bill has a long way to go before being enacted into law but this is the first critical step,” Carlyle wrote.
(Reuven Carlyle is a sponsor of QueenAnneView).